It's 2024. What will you be doing? Where are you working? Do you have kids? Where are you living? These are all questions people ask themselves looking into the future...so how about another question: Where will the music industry be in 10 years? It's a loaded question given the rapidly evolving environment. Here are 10 Ways The Music Industry Will Change In 10 Years.
(MOST) PEOPLE WON'T CARE ABOUT OWNING MUSIC
Let's think about this very deeply for a second. Even in the CD era of the music business, when you bought music, what did you really own? You didn't own something that no one else had. You didn't own something unique. You basically owned a CD. CD's didn't increase in value. It wasn't like you were buying stocks or rare gold coins (but just think about all the money you spent on CD's back in the day - you could have bought some stocks).
Moving on from CD's, let's get to MP3's. Essentially, people are paying for air. As Eminem said, "put air in a bag and charge people to breathe." When you buy an MP3, you are receiving a file. You can't hold this file in your hand. There is nothing unique about this file. I mean, you could hold it in your hand if you burned it to a CD...but...well, read above.
In 10 years time, the majority of people will not care about owning music. Why? Well...:
- News flash: Life is expensive. Sure, there is no growth value in buying groceries but people need to buy them to live. People will live without buying music. This isn't to say people will stop loving music - in fact, I would argue that people love music now more than they ever did. But in 10 years, people are either going to expect to get their music for free or, the more likely scenario and more appealing scenario for artists, pay a small fee for all-you-can-eat access to music.
Now, I don't think physical music sales will ever die completely - but these will move towards people buying very special, physical releases that provide them ample added value for their dollars. The majority however will move away from an ownership model.
IF AN ARTIST DOESN'T HAVE A PERSONAL CONNECTION WITH THEIR FANS, THEY WILL BE DEAD IN THE WATER
When I say personal connection, I'm not talking about Jay-Z tweeting every 6 months. But you know what? Jay-Z already made it in the pre-digital era so he doesn't count. Artists bubbling up now are going to need to ensure fans have access into their lives and career. Long gone will be the days of that "untouchable" star like Michael Jackson...or Eminem...or Elton John. The new "star" artist will become part of the everyday lives of their fans, making themselves instantly accessible to their fans.
What does this mean for the artist? How will it be different? Well, artists are going to have to WORK...like really work...like you work at your day job that you hate. The fat recording industry will die. This isn't to say artists still won't make a lot of money - but they are going to have to work and grind 3 times harder than artists do now. I know, I know...you are probably saying "but artists grind hard now." Yes, they do...but they also rely on that star mystique to keeps fans just enough out-of-reach. Yes, we have Twitter, Facebook and so on...you know what though? Twitter and Facebook are pretty impersonal. An artist with 7 million followers retweeting a fan with 100 followers is no doubt exciting - but is that really a life sustaining connection? I may be getting a little extreme with it here, but is an artist retweeting you one time when you are 16 years-old ensuring this person will still be buying your music when they're 20?
Call me crazy if you want, but the artist of the future won't appear in a fan's life only when it's single or album release time - they will be an interwoven component of everyday life. The "how" of this is something for another post but this reality is on the way.
RECORD LABELS WON'T RUN THE RECORDING INDUSTRY
It's happening now with the likes of Spotify, Pandora, Shazam and others. In 10 years, the record labels won't run the recording industry. Will there still be record labels? Technically, yes...but they will essentially be marketing companies hired by the new recording industry for certain areas of expertise (PR, digital, design, etc.). So who will run the recording industry? Well, tech companies will hold the biggest piece of the pie with streaming and all-you-can-eat services ruling the day...but don't be surprised if a car company figures out a way to own a piece of this. Whether it be through a partnership with a tech company or on their own...hey, people listen to music in their cars...like a lot.
And then there are big brands. You know, American Eagle, GAP, Pepsi, Coke, etc. In the future, big brands will partner with artists for single and album releases to support selling the real goods...clothes, soda, shoes, etc. I know these brands have people in place now managing music partnerships but look for this aspect of their business to evolve to the point where they are dictating "stars" similar to the way record label A&R departments used to do it.
MUSIC WILL BE EVEN BETTER THAN IT IS NOW
Have you noticed something since the mid-2000s until now? Music has gotten better. Better recording artists have broken through into your ears. And you know what? It's going to keep getting better. With the inception of digital recording tools, social media and streaming services, the opportunity to discover great music is better than it's ever been.
It wasn't long ago when, in order to discover great music, you relied on a record label to tell you what was good. You know "watch for (insert artists name here) incredible new album. She's the new (insert artist name here)." Music fans are smarter than this now. Sure, fans might still check out an artist presented to them by a label but they see through the marketing speak much easier now and form their own opinions. Fans also take pride now in discovering obscure artists online, but then sharing them throughout their social networks, in turn making the artist less obscure but still something special.
In 10 years, there will be even more incredible music available made by people with a passion for the art of music. Will some of these people break through? Yes, but you will find that the majority of them will be doing it for the love of music.
THERE WILL BE NO MUSIC BLOGS OR WEBSITES (AND DEFINITELY NO MAGAZINES) RULING THE LAND
Music blogs and websites aren't going anywhere. But, what will ultimately change in 10 years, is people won't be looking to a singular music blog or website source to see what's out there or what's good. What is now a structure of - Big, high traffic blogs/websites and medium traffic blogs/website - will likely evolve into a landscape of lower traffic tumblrs, blogs, sites that you stumble on and discover rather than intentionally visit on a daily basis. Much like music will change to a more discovery based system rather than "go to iTunes, see what's new, download", music media will become more about discovery than authoritative voices.
On the magazine front, music magazines aren't alone. In a general sense, in 10 years, magazines (like physical magazines) will be all but dead with the exception of very few niche publications. Some of these magazines will find success in a transfer over to a digital format. And there is no doubt room for a select few, very well designed and highly interactive music publications to find their way into this space. That being said, much the same way blogs/sites will evolve, so will music magazines.
JOURNALISTS WON'T INTERVIEW MUSICIANS...YOU WILL
Welcome to the job interview phase of the new music industry. You're an artist. You want fans. You want fans to buy into what you're selling. Much like a job interview where you are trying to sell yourself, so too will recording artists in the new music industry. I know, I know...this happens now with Hangouts and UStream sessions...but if you've ever been in one of these, you know not everyone gets face time with the artist. That's right people, in the new music industry, fans will have an ongoing opportunity to ask artists questions...and it won't be like 2014 when you fire off Tweets to an artist that go completely ignored. Nope, it's going to be that new hard work model I talked about above. These are your customers. Here are two things that have never gone together in the past - "Music industry" and "customer service"...oh but it's coming.
THERE WON'T BE MEGA STARS
Michael Jackson. Billy Joel. Jay-Z. U2. The Rolling Stones. In 2024, the days of the mega star recording artist will be gone (well, except for the ones who are already mega stars now). There will be successful recording artists that become well-known...but the days of someone becoming a massive, worldwide sensation off of music alone will be gone.
Again, this isn't to say people won't have fanbases or make money...substantial amounts of money off of making music, but "icon" status, for a musician alone, will be a thing of the past. If artists want to achieve the level of fame that some before them have, they will need to expand into other avenues (tech, film, TV, etc.).
YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WATCH ANY CONCERT FROM YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST
Quite frankly, I can't believe this doesn't exist now. At times, an artist will let you stream a concert. It's usually a special concert, maybe with surprise guests...but why can't I watch my favourite artist perform a random Tuesday night concert in Chicago from the comfort of my own home?
I would imagine there is a feeling in the concert industry that allowing fans to stream any concert from their home would cannibalize ticket sales. You know, thinking that if the artist comes to the fans town, they won't buy a ticket to the show when they can simply stream it from home. There is an easy solution to this - charge people for the privilege. Sure, no one is going to pay $90 to stream a concert from their computer or iPad, but they might pay $10 to watch their favourite artists concert. Packages could even be put together - select 5 shows to watch on this tour for $40.
Don't think you would be interested in this? It's one of those things that you don't know you're missing it until you have it. Yes, some big festivals stream now (Coachella, Bonnaroo, Made in America), but fans want all access opportunities to engage, interact and see their favourite artist.
RELEASE DATES WON'T EXIST
I've recently written a piece on this. But to summarize, no one cares about release dates anymore. Music is now about discovery. It's no longer a dictatorship run by major record labels. People are too busy for internal business processes such as release dates. I believe this is something that will be gone sooner than 10 years from now, but regardless, it's on the way.
THE ALBUM WON'T DIE...IT WILL BECOME AN APP
Lady Gaga tried this with her latest album "ARTPOP." It wasn't the whole way "there" but it was an interesting companion to her traditional album release (too bad this was Gaga's weakest album - hey, the music critic in me is still here). So where is "there?" Do a quick Google search and you will read many articles asking if the traditional recorded music album dead? I say no. I believe people still want complete listening experiences. Sure, in the discovery age, people jump from artist to artist and song to song, but there is still room for the album...just not in its traditional format. In 10 years, you will still get album experiences but they will be in the form of App's that you can interact with via mobile devices. There will be music...but there may also be games to compliment songs, videos, written words, personal photos from the artist. And to go along with the initial experience, updates will be pushed to the App to ensure the album and the experience tied to it lives on. Welcome to the future.